Finally go this story posted. I want to thank my beta errihu, she is an awesome writer please check out her Gaara and Sakura story.

The Gift of Marriage

Whenever a new Kage was appointed, it was the norm that they be given gifts from each of the hidden villages they were allied with. It was the clans that made up these hidden villages that took it upon themselves to give these gifts, as a show of good will and faith upon the new leader. Such was the case when Gaara became the new Kazekage of Sunagakure.

The first gift arrived in his first year as Kazekage, from the Inuzuka clan and personally delivered by the future clan leader, Kiba. Gaara had wrinkled his nose in disgust at the gift: an Ibizan hound, suspiciously named Amun. He sat at 29 inches tall with large pointed ears, a hallmark of its breed. His reddish brown coat shone with good health, and his canine teeth gleamed white in the hot glare of the sun. Now, Gaara wasn't much of an animal person; however, society decreed that as leader any gift was a good gift and it was an insult to refuse. Therefore, for the time being, the great Sand leader was stuck with Amun. His displeasure was short-lived, fortunately, as the Inuzuka leader pointed out the qualities of an Ibizan hound, keen hearing and smelling, unmitigated loyalty, and the ability to jump and climb great heights, Gaara came to appreciate that Amun could be very useful in the future.

The gifts did not stop there. That same year, the Yamanaka sent a member of their clan, Ino, to present the new Kazekage with several medicinal plants.

Gaara spent several days with the loudmouthed blonde, learning the purpose of each plant. One, the Pleurisy Root, which Ino informally referred to as "Butterfly Weed", was definitely useful. When the roots were dried and added to teas, they made a tincture that would treat most lung ailments and other winter illnesses. Another root, the Wild Licorice root, could help support the immune system when ground up and mixed with tea. Most importantly, they were all plants that would thrive in the hot desert climate. The practicality of these gifts meant they were well received, and he made sure that Sekka, the head of Sunagakure's medical staff, was made aware of the new plants in the village green house.

In the second year of his reign, the Aburame clan's heir, Shino, arrived. The young male was hidden beneath layers and layers of clothing; any emotion that could be read was safely protected behind his high collar, low hood, and dark glasses. Shino was a man of very few words, his entire vocabulary seeming to consist only of words such as "wait," "watch," and "listen." As the Kazekage was himself a man of few words, the two men got on quite well.

Shino spent two days explaining the usefulness of his clan's gift, a hive of honeybees. The first time Gaara was stung almost resulted in the loss of the entire colony, death by sand. However, Shino patiently explained that bees played an important role in pollination, and were the only insect that produced food commonly eaten by humans. Besides pollination and honey, bees also provided beeswax, a common ingredient for making candles, polishes, inks, cosmetics, and other useful items.

Ryo signs quickly replaced the murder in Gaara's eyes as he listened. He knew that kind of resource would give a huge, much needed boost to Sunagakure's economy. Thus converted, he wisely placed Sari in charge of the hives. Sari was a newly appointed chunin, a close friend of Matsuri's and she seemed to have a knack for not getting stung. Something in which Gaara had not yet succeeded.

In the third year, Shikamaru Nara graced the Kazekage with his presence. Gaara noticed that the young man was more interested in his sister than in giving his gift. And Temari was more involved in this gift than any other that was given. So Gaara allowed his older sister and the future leader of the Nara clan to build the fences, and set the area for the small herd of deer to graze and live. After the almost month long visit from Shikamaru, Gaara was relieved to have him leave. Moreover, he was even more relieved that Temari had stayed.

A few more trivial gifts arrived from clans of lesser importance, and the Kazekage soon forgot that there was still one clan that had not bestowed their gift: the Hyuuga clan, known well for their skill in assassination, deadly aim, and haunting eyes.

It was during Gaara's twentieth birthday celebration; a small, intimate affair; that Hiashi Hyuuga deemed fit to present his gift. The Hyuuga's arrival was all pomp and circumstance, as was befitting such a prestigious clan. Although Gaara was slightly irritated with the sudden, unexpected arrival, he kept quiet out of polite respect. The group was small; only three from the head family and one branch member had come. As clan head, Hiashi stood at the front, dressed in his most regal set of robes. His only sign of recognizing Gaara's superior rank as Kazekage was a very slight nod of his head.

"I am here today to pay my respect and recognize Gaara of the Desert as the Kazekage of Sunagakure," Hiashi addressed, his tone cool and smooth. "Accompanying me is my nephew and future clan leader, Neji, along with my youngest daughter, Hanabi."

Gaara watched as two of the three figures behind the Hyuuga leader stepped forward. Neji nodded his head in recognition and they shared a brief moment of understanding; Neji's team had saved Gaara's life not too long ago. The young girl who had stepped up with him gave a very small curtsy. Hanabi couldn't have been more than fifteen, yet her eyes told of years of experience. There was a cold, calculating hardness about the girl that Gaara found vastly unpleasant, and her haunting gaze seemed to stare right through him, piercing him to his very soul.

The third figure stayed back, completely hidden from view under a dark purple cloak. It caught Gaara's attention, though he did his best to remain impassive and unconcerned. Before he could address the issue of such a suspicious person, Hiashi made an impatient gesture and the figure immediately moved to stand in front of him. With dramatic deliberation, the Hyuuga Head reached for the fabric, grasped, and twirled the cloak aside to reveal a tall, slender woman.

Gaara's eyes widened as he took in her appearance. Her pitch-black hair tumbled gracefully from the hood, swirling around slim shoulders. Intelligence lit her features, easily creating the most riveting picture Gaara had ever seen. Perfectly shaped lips, just the right shade of pink, curved up ever so slightly. Long black lashes framed eyes of the most unique lavender, soft, warm, and inviting, and he found himself staring, lost in her beauty.

"May I present my oldest daughter, Hinata, my clan's gift to you," Hiashi announced.

Gaara's aqua gaze jerked to Hiashi in shock, skin paling just enough to cause the dark rings around his eyes to stand out in stark contrast. His hands gripped the armrests of his chair and he again stared at his gift.

Her lips never wavered, frozen in that half smile, but her eyes shimmered with curiosity, fear, and something else, hidden and unidentified. A type of energy coursed through them both as they stared.

Thus began five years of deadly secrets, a terrible loss, hair-raising adventure, and a passion to rival that of the oldest romantic tale; all because of one, simple rule: Never return a gift!